| Senior Islamic scholar Qaradawi resigns from Al-Azhar!

Senior Islamic scholar Qaradawi resigns from Al-Azhar ~ World Bulletin / News Desk.

Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has been an outspoken critic of Morsi’s ouster and repeatedly chastised Egypt’s new military-backed rulers. 

Prominent Egyptian-born Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has resigned from Al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars Council, the prestigious Cairo-based religious institution’s most authoritative body.

In a Monday statement, al-Qaradawi said his resignation aimed to “register the position taken by free scholars.”

“I’m tendering my resignation… to the great Egyptian people, not to the Grand Imam who owns the Azhar,” said al-Qaradawi, who also serves as president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars.

The prominent scholar went on to assert that the post of Al-Azhar Grand Imam – like the presidency – “has been usurped by the military coup.”

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed Tayeb openly supported the Egyptian military‘s July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against the latter’s administration.

In the months since, al-Qaradawi has been an outspoken critic of Morsi’s ouster and repeatedly chastised Egypt’s new military-backed rulers.

The Qatar-based scholar also blasted al-Tayeb’s failure to invite members of the Senior Scholars Council to meet “in light of the recent massacres and grave incidents that have terrorized the Egyptian people, particularly the dispersal of the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins.”

On August 14, hundreds of pro-Morsi demonstrators were killed when security forces violently cleared two sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares.

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| Propaganda Alert: How The New York Times erases Israel’s crimes!

How The New York Times erases Israel’s crimes ~ Robert RossThe Electronic Intifada.

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Given the omissions in three recent Times articles, it’s no wonder so many Americans are in the dark when it comes to Israel.

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The New York Times keeps the American public in the dark about the true nature of Israel’s occupation.

(Nedal Eshtayah / APA images)

According to The New York Times, there is no siege of Gaza, no occupation of the West Bank, and never was there a Nakba (the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine). Three recent articles erase these key Israeli crimes from the historical record.

In a 13 December 2012 article entitled “Hamas Gains Allure in Gaza, but Money is a Problem,” Steven Erlanger explores the reasons for Gaza’s increasingly debilitating poverty. Never once in this 1,300-word piece does Erlanger even mention the Israeli siege on Gaza or the 2008 and 2012 Israeli bombardments as factors (much less the principal causes).

Instead, Erlanger goes through a long list of regional developments (the weakening of the Assad regime in Syria, sanctions on Iran) and, most emphatically, decisions by Hamas(new taxes and fees), which have supposedly left Palestinians in Gaza not only increasingly impoverished but also more resentful than ever of Hamas. “Gazans recognize that there is more order here,” Erlanger explains, “more construction and less garbage. But many resent the economic burden of financing Hamas and, implicitly, its military.”

No siege

So to the extent that the most recent Israeli onslaught is considered at all, it is Hamas’rockets, once again, that are blamed for Gaza’s misfortune. As if to prove his point, a 43-year-old butcher says to Erlanger, “things have steadily declined in Gaza.” Another Gaza resident adds, “it is a life of depression and deprivation.”

Erlanger does include the word “siege” in his analysis, but only amidst a quoted laundry list of problems Palestinians in Gaza now endure: “poverty, mismanagement, siege,unemployment, little freedom of movement,” Mkhaimar Abusada is quoted as saying.

And the siege, among these other conditions, is implicitly attributed not to Israel, but to Hamas: “If it can’t deal with these same issues,” Abusada concludes, “Hamas will find itself in the same position as it was before the war.” While Abusada, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University, certainly knows the origins of these conditions, Erlanger’s placement of his quotation makes it seem that even Abusada blames the siege on Hamas.

Either way, Erlanger does not provide any sense of how totalizing and devastating a ground, air and naval blockade (much less the two recent military assaults) of the densely populated territory actually is. An uninformed reader could easily conclude that the siege is something for which Hamas is responsible, not an imperially-imposed form of collective punishment foisted upon Palestinians by Israel, and not something that is directly responsible for Gaza’s poverty and “little freedom of movement.”

Thus, according to The New York Times, Hamas is responsible for Gaza’s problems; Israel has nothing to do with it.

No Nakba

Times article about Palestinian refugees in Syria published three days after Erlanger’s Gaza story obscures the reason that Palestinians are refugees in the first place (“A Syrian airstrike kills Palestinian refugees and costs Assad support,” 16 December 2012).

With just eight words, the Times absolves Israel of any responsibility for the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to make way for a Jewish state.

Reporting on the Syrian regime’s recent attack on Yarmouk camp in Damascus, home to thousands of Palestinian refugees, the Times explains that the Palestinians there were “refugees from conflict with Israel and their descendants.” The Nakba, the original sin ofZionism and the State of Israel, is thus smeared into obscurity. It is transformed into something it is not, changed from the wholesale removal of one group of people by another to a conflict between two presumably equal sides, from which a bunch of Palestinians evidently fled.

The newspaper of record does not, of course, go on to explain that while UN Resolution 194 specifically grants the Palestinians in Syria (as well as those in Lebanon, Jordan and elsewhere) the right to return to their homes in what is now Israel, the Israeli government has always — and, at times, violently — denied this right.

No occupation

An article published the following day, on the so-called E1 land east of Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, fails to mention that this land and the broader territory of which it is part, is considered by international law to be a Palestinian territory currently under Israeli occupation (Steven Erlanger, “West Bank land, empty but full of meaning,” 17 December).

Reporting on Israel’s recent declaration to build settlements on E1, Erlanger reproduces the oldest Zionist myth in the book: that this is an “empty” land, over which now the “two sides” are struggling: “E1 [is] a largely empty patch of the West Bank,” Erlanger writes. And the “fight” over E1 “speaks to the seemingly insurmountable differences, hostility, and distrust between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” Erlanger informs us.

Thus, the occupied Palestinian West Bank, with all its illegal Israeli settlements, Jewish-only roads, Israeli checkpoints, Israeli military incursions and Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes, is reduced to a territory to which two different groups are laying equally legitimate claim. The closest Erlanger gets to even hinting at the occupation is where he writes toward the end of the article that E1 is “largely state land.”

But this, like the unidentified and unexplained “siege” in Gaza, is far too vague for an uninformed reader to understand which “state” controls this land, under which conditions, and against whose rights, livelihood and sovereignty.

So there you have it: no siege, no Nakba, and no occupation. Such reporting is, at best, delusional. At worst, it is intentionally misleading. In any case, The New York Times serves Israel’s interests by keeping the American public in the dark about the true nature of Israel’s occupation.

It is easy to understand why so many Americans find the situation so apparently confusing when the people who report on it are themselves confused about the very basic historical, geographic and political realities.

Robert Ross is an Assistant Professor of Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His research and teaching focus upon the political-economic geographies of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon and the United States. He is also a member of the Pittsburgh Palestine Solidarity Committee and the Israel-Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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| HRW: Israel/Gaza: Israeli airstrike on home unlawful!

Israel/Gaza: Israeli Airstrike on Home Unlawful ~ Human Rights Watch.

Deadliest Strike of Gaza Fighting Killed 12
  • Rubble of the destroyed al-Dalu family home, and the badly damaged al-Muzannar home in the back, hit by an Israeli airstrike on November 18, 2012, killing 12 people.
    © 2012 Anne Paq for Human Rights Watch
“The Israeli claim that the attack on the Dalu home was justified is unsupported by the facts.” – Fred Abrahams, special advisor at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – An Israeli airstrike that killed 12 civilians – the largest number of civilians killed in a single attack during the Gaza fighting in November – was a clear violation of the laws of war.

On November 18, 2012, Israeli forces dropped what appears to have been a large aerial bomb on the three-story home of the Dalu family in Gaza City, killing 10 members of the household – one man, five women, and four children. A young man and an elderly woman of the Muzannar family next door were also killed.

At first the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were attacking a Hamas fighter named Yahia Abayah. Eight days later the IDF said the target had been the man killed in the house, Mohamed Jamal al-Dalu, whom they called a “terror operative” for Hamas without providing supporting information. Even if al-Dalu, a low-ranking police officer, was a legitimate military target under the laws of war, the likelihood that the attack on a civilian home would have killed large numbers of civilians made it unlawfully disproportionate, Human Rights Watch said. Attacks in which the expected civilian loss exceeds the anticipated military gain are serious violations of the laws of war.

“The Israeli claim that the attack on the Dalu home was justified is unsupported by the facts,” said Fred Abrahams, special advisor at Human Rights Watch, who conducted research in Gaza. “The onus is on Israel to explain why it bombed a home full of civilians killing 12 people.”


The Israeli strike occurred around 2:30 p.m. in the residential and densely populated Nasser neighborhood of Gaza City. The head of the household, Jamal al-Dalu, a 50-year-old food distributor, told Human Rights Watch that he had gone to the market with his son Abdallah to buy food for his family, and then to the mosque for afternoon prayers. While Jamal al-Dalu was praying, his son received a telephone call that that their home had been destroyed and family members killed.

A relative, Ayman al-Dalu, said he heard the explosion and arrived at the house 10 minutes after the attack. “The whole building had collapsed,” he said. “Out front was nothing, only yellow sand. When we arrived we could see two bodies in the rubble.” Those were the bodies of Suhaila, 73, and Samah, 25, he said.

The sole survivor of the attack, 16-year-old Nasser Saluha, the brother of one of the victims, Samah al-Dalu, told Human Rights Watch that he had gone to the house to play with the other children and they were about to eat lunch in an upstairs room when the house was struck without any warning:

My sister was bringing the food for lunch and we were about to start. I thought that something hit the house strongly. I didn’t hear anything. I felt a shock and pressure and something was pulling me into the ground. I found myself lying on my back with dust and sand all over my body. I managed to get out of the rubble and run into the street. I felt pain in my leg; my whole body was cut up and needed stiches.

Nasser said that he was upstairs with his sister and the four children when the explosive hit. The women were downstairs and Mohamed al-Dalu, the only man in the house, was in a bedroom.

The family and civil defense forces dug out eight members of the family from the rubble that afternoon. The bodies of two victims – Yara, 17, and Mohamed, 29 – were not discovered until November 22.

The attack on Jamal al-Dalu’s home also killed a grandson and grandmother from the al-Muzanner family, who lived next door. The blast ripped open the back walls facing the Dalu home and caused major damage inside.

The head of the neighboring household, Mohamed al-Muzannar, owner of the Ramadan Muzannar sweets factory, told Human Rights Watch that he was in a front room on the other side from the Dalu house when the attack took place. The strike killed al-Muzannar’s son Abdallah, 18, a science student at al-Azhar University, and his mother Amina, 83. Mohamed’s wife Naha, 37, was injured in both legs.

One of Mohamed al-Muzannar’s sons, Amjad, a 20-year-old accounting student, said he was on the stairs of the two-story house at the time of the strike. “It was quiet, we had just heard a strike on the Danah building [about 700 meters away] about half an hour before,” he said. “Suddenly the ceramic tiles fell on me, so I knew it was in this area. I ran downstairs to get my parents and all of a sudden I couldn’t see, it was all smoke and dust. I tried calling [to my family] but I have asthma [so I couldn’t] and I ran into the street.”

Another son, 17-year-old Haitham, said he was on the back balcony facing the Dalu house at the time. “There was dust and I flew into the wall – I couldn’t see,” he said. “I could hear someone yelling, ‘Your brother is dead! Your brother is dead!” Haitham suffered cuts on his arm, chest, left ear, and back of the head, most of which required stiches.

On the staircase of the Muzannar house Human Rights Watch saw streaks of blood that Amjad and Haitham said came from their injuries as they groped their way through the dust and smoke out of the house.

In addition to the 12 deaths in the Dalu and Muzannar families, the airstrike wounded at least nine civilians in the area, and badly damaged or destroyed three other homes.

When Human Rights Watch visited the site one week after the strike, researchers found no remains of the Israeli munition, which family members said civil defense crews had removed while recovering the bodies. The complete destruction of the three-story house and the extensive damage to the surrounding homes suggests that Israeli forces dropped a large aerial bomb.

Israel has offered different explanations for what happened. Just after the attack, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Avital Liebovitch described the strike as an accident that Israel was “still looking into it.” She said the intended target had been a man “in charge of rocket launching.”

Another IDF spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, said on television the day of the strike that the Israeli military had tried to target a senior member of Hamas’s armed wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, whom he identified as Yahia Abayah. “Although I don’t know the outcome, there were civilians harmed by this,” he was reported as saying.

Members of the Dalu family and neighbors told Human Rights Watch they had not heard of anyone named Yahia Abayah. His name is not listed as a killed fighter on the official websites of Hamas’s al-Qassam Brigades or Islamic Jihad’s Saraya al-Quds.

On November 27, five days after Mohamed al-Dalu’s body was found, Lt. Col. Liebovitch said that the military had targeted Mohamed al-Dalu because he was a “known terror operative affiliated with the military wing of Hamas.” She provided no information to support the claim.

The IDF did not respond to a request from Human Rights Watch for more information.

Members of the Dalu family and neighbors interviewed separately said that Mohamed al-Dalu was not a member of any Palestinian armed group. He was a lieutenant in the civilian police under the Interior Ministry, they said, specializing in VIP protection.

The website of the al-Qassam Brigades regularly posts the names and biographies of its killed fighters, including 20 men from the eight days of fighting in November, but as of December 6 it had not posted any mention of Mohamed al-Dalu. At the site of the Dalu house, Human Rights Watch saw two posters, one from Hamas and one from the al-Israa Mosque, which called Mohamed al-Dalu a “martyr” and “fighter” for the al-Qassam Brigade and showed him respectively with an assault rifle and a pistol. The family and Palestinian journalists in Gaza said this was common for killed police and employees of the government, especially if Hamas covered the costs of the funeral.

Mohamed al-Dalu’s commander in the police, Maj. Refa’at al-Wali, who heads the Security and Protection Force at the Interior Ministry, told Human Rights Watch that since 2006 al-Dalu had been in a unit responsible for protecting Gaza government officials and visiting dignitaries. Major al-Wali said that al-Dalu had worked every day during the latest fighting, and that he was not a member of any armed group.

Police spokesman Ayman al-Batnigri also told Human Rights Watch that al-Dalu was a member of the Security and Protection Force, which he called a purely “civilian department.” In the Interior Ministry, Human Rights Watch saw a poster with 25 policemen who were killed in the November fighting that included Mohamed al-Dalu. The circumstances of each of the policemen’s deaths are not known. Eight of the killed policemen also appear on the al-Qassem Brigades’ list of killed fighters, but not Mohamed al-Dalu. None of them appeared on the lists of killed fighters from Islamic Jihad or the Popular Resistance Committees.

Under international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, which were applicable during the November fighting in Gaza, civilans and civilian objects may not be targets of attack. Police are presumed to be civilian, and thus immune from attack, unless they are formally incorporated into the armed forces of a party to the conflict or are directly participating in the hostilities.

Israel has not provided any information to support the claim that Mohamed al-Dalu was directly participating in hostilities, Human Rights Watch said.

“Israel’s belated effort, once it could scour the list of victims, to defend the attack by naming a civilian police officer found among the dead suggests an after-the-fact attempt to justify the unjustifiable,” Abrahams said.

Even if Mohamed al-Dalu were a legitimate military target, an attack on his crowded home would be unlikely to meet the requirement of proportionality, Human Rights Watch said. Under the laws of war, the expected military gain from an attack must outweigh the anticipated civilian harm.

Disproportionate attacks are serious violations which Israel has an obligation to investigate. Victims of laws of war violations and their families should be promptly and adequately compensated. Anyone responsible for deliberately or recklessly committing a serious violation of the laws of war should be prosecuted for war crimes.

“Israel needs to explain why it bombed this house filled with civilians,” Abrahams said. “Anyone who violated the law should be appropriately punished.”

The recent fighting between Israel and Hamas and armed groups in Gaza took place from November 14 to 21. It involved unlawful attacks on civilians by both sides. At least 103 Palestinian civilians and 4 Israeli civilians died during the fighting.

Deaths
1. Samah Abdul Hamid al-Dalu, 27
2. Jamal Mohamed al-Dalu, 6
3. Yousef Mohamed al-Dalu, 4
4. Sarah Mohamed al-Dalu, 7
5. Ibrahim Mohamed al-Dalu, 1
6. Tahani Hassan al-Dalu, 52
7. Suhaila Mahmoud al-Dalu, 73
8. Raneen Jamal al-Dalu, 22
9. Yara Jamal al-Dalu, 17
10. Mohamed Jamal al-Dalu, 29
11. Abdullah Mohammed al-Muzannar, 18
12. Amina Matar al-Muzannar, 83

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